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Ten Killer Songs About Death



“Life is for the living. Death is for the dead. Let life be like music. And death a note unsaid.” – Langston Hughes

Heavy title, huh? Death. The “Big Sleep”. The Final Exit. What always amazes and confounds me about death is that it’s so different and personal to each one of us, both in how we perceive it and how we deal with its’ inevitability. Death is humanities one truly universal experience, albeit our final. As a species, we often try to cope with our creeping mortality, sometimes through vice or prayer (both noble in their own right). But through the tension release of art, music has given us a unique look into the minds of mankind and given endless well of analysis on a sometimes sordid but always fascinating topic.

Anyway, here’s a playlist for your next party, if you want your party to be a total bummer!

“(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” – Blue Oyster Cult | Now sadly only known as “that song from when Christopher Walken needed more cowbell on SNL”, my own personal first brush with sonic death was hearing this song blasting out of my dads’ Buick Regal in the late 80’s. The penultimate ode to the afterlife, almost calm and gentle in its’ approach of human expiration, this classic rock staple floats along seemingly without a care, stopping only to deliver a  bridge section that plays out incredibly, proto-heavy metal at its’ finest, sounding like the last aural moments of mortality shifting into a roller coaster ride straight to Damnation Station. Epic to say the least.

“A Distorted Reality Is Now Necessary to be Free” – Elliot Smith | It’s somewhat fitting that the last song on the posthumously released collection “New Moon” by Elliot Smith take a somber and macabre approach (never a problem for Mr. Smith), as the heralded singer-songwriter would die from a highly disputed and publicized suicide in October of 2003. On this track, intensely personal lyricism, replete with veiled allusions to drug dependence, suicide and depression lilt over a subdued and stripped down acoustic guitar, eventually giving way to full instrumentation that turn the indie song into an almost orchestral movement, a hallmark style frequently employed within his catalogue. Achingly mournful and beautifully brilliant, and unfortunately gone far too soon.

“There is A Light That Never Goes Out” – The Smiths | A song that’s equal parts bleak and haunting as it is and shimmering and luminous, I could probably write a graduate thesis on the beauty contained within its’ four minutes and four seconds. Musically, it melds the worlds of British pop and New Wave seamlessly, synthesized strings offering a despondent overture to the downcast youth of a Margaret Thatcher-bred 1980’s. But the melancholic and sardonic lyricism of Morrissey really sets it apart, the song itself about a romantic encounter so perfect and captivating, the Moz goes as far as to say he would not care if a  “double decker bus” were to crash into them, as to die by their side would be “such a heavenly way to die.”  Heavy handed and trite? Maybe. Endlessly enthralling? Absolutely.

“Ready to Die” Notorious B.I.G. | The murder of the Notorious B.I.G. sent shockwaves throughout hip hop fans the world over. The possible casualty of an all too often overtly violent street culture, the aggression and crime of a pre-gentrification 90’s New York City is on display heavily all over this track, with brutal yet still silky smooth lyrics taking on the persona of a stick up kid with a callous disregard for both his own life and the lives of others. For him, life is disposable, cold and ultimately fleeting. The song is an important look into a world rarely heard with such intensity other than by those living it.

“25 Minutes To Go” – Johnny Cash | Originally penned and recorded by children’s book author Shel Silverstein, the best version is handled by the Man In Black himself, Johnny Cash. Never afraid to tackle darker imagery throughout his career, this song is a doozy. Recorded inside Folsom Prison live for the inmates for his acclaimed “Live at Folsom Prison” album. A perfect example of “gallows humor”, the song centers on a criminal sentenced to hang for their crimes in prison, recounting their last 25 minutes on Earth. Full of trademark Johnny Cash grit and lyrical middle finger, sections of the song centering on the Warden and pardons whip the inmates into a frenzy, the song sped up as the song winds down by Cash’s backing band the Tennessee Three. By the time the clock is down to 5 minutes left, Cash’s voice is at a near holler, and the inmates are right there with him, some of them literally. Powerful stuff.

“I Will Follow You Into the Dark” – Death Cab for Cutie |  The true beauty of “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” off of Death Cab’s seminal “PLANS” album lies not within it’s quietly gorgeous acoustic guitar, nor its’ lo-fi sensibility. They merely add to it. It’s real beauty lies in its’ lyrics, (courtesy of DCFC frontman Benjamin Gibbard) penning a truly gorgeous, albeit plaintive ballad. The songs’ lyrics speak as an assurance, a promise that in both life and death, through the uncertainties or “dark” parts of life, that death is not to be feared, as the object of affection in the song would be “followed” their beloved “into the dark”. Recently, there has been an uptick of non-traditional couples using the song as a wedding march, as well they should. This tune was pretty much made for it.

“Stairway to Heaven” – Led Zeppelin | I know, I know. We’ve all heard the song, it’s pretty much everywhere. If you walked into a Guitar Center at this very moment, there’s a 75% chance someone is playing a half baked, mistake riddled rendition of it right now. With abstract lyricism largely defying any concrete analysis, multiple instrumental movements and kick ass guitar solos, it typifies the arena rock era from whence it came, easily earning the title of one of the greatest rock n’ roll songs of all time. Rumor has it, certain sections of the song contain hidden messages to Satan himself, an allegation made stronger by Zep guitarist Jimmy Page purchasing avowed Satanist Alesiter Crowleys’ Scottish estate. Has Nickelback ever done anything that cool? I doubt it.

“Tha Crossroads”- Bone Thugs -n- Harmony | With a laid back beat chill enough to make an old timers’ head nod uncontrollably, Grammy Award winning Cleveland, Ohio emcees Bone Thugs -N- Harmony (Layzie Bone, Krayzie Bone, Wish Bone, Flesh-N-Bone and Bizzy Bone respectively) lay down one of the most arrestingly moving hip hop songs of the 1990’s (or any decade for that matter). Straight off their multi-platinum “E. 1999 Eternal” album, this trip to Jam City offers up 4 of the 5 members replacing the harder style they had been previously known for with a softer lyrical approach, while still serving up rapid fire and complex rhymes, heartfelt vignettes of friends and family members lost, a dose of spirituality and faith in god permeating throughout the track. Simply beautiful.

“Gloomy Sunday” – Billie Holiday | Watch out, this song is a killer! Also known by the fun and fancy free title “Hungarian Suicide Song”, this cover by jazz legend Billie Holiday is kind of a bummer, but in the best way. Originally entitled “Vége a világnak (The world is ending)” the songs centers around a despondent victim of war, looking to “end it all” and reunite with their beloved in their afterlife. Urban legend has it that many people have committed suicide while listening to this song, prompting the BBC to ban the Lady Day version from being played on air in the 1940’s, a ban not lifted until 2002. Spooky.

“Jeremy” – Pearl Jam | The tale of this song is not for the faint of heart. This grunge-era classic is based on the true life events of Jeremy Delle, a Texas teen who shot himself in front of his English class. Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder was inspired to write about the incident after reading a small article about it in a newspaper. Of the song, he has stated there was a  “need to take that small article and make something of it—to give that action, to give it reaction, to give it more importance.” The creepy music video for “Jeremy”, while kept in heavy rotation upon its’ release on MTV in 1991, was not without controversy, with a push to ban it from MTV and prosecution team for a 1996 Moses Lake, Washington school shooting naming the video as a motivation.

Do you  Spotify? Well here’s a playlist of the songs right here!  Complete with the honorable mentions too.

Honorable Mentions ///   

One Step Beyond – Prince Buster

Angel of Death – SLAYER

Leader of the Pack – The Shangri-Las

T.R.O.Y. – Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth

Marquee Moon – Television

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Denver’s Wes Watkins dynamic new future-funk EP is from another planet




Future-Funk Party Starter | Wes Watkins

Dreams Out from Denver’s best kept secret Wes Watkins wears so many musical hats it needs a rack; downtempo G-Funk homage and sweltering nee-Soul / Rn’B are all over this release, all covered with a thicc pop glaze and a penchant for electronic-sonic experimentation that keep every song fascinatingly adventurous while maintaining a danceability and groove that easily, easily warrants multiple listens. Don’t sleep on this one.

Lo-Fuzz Folkie | Hoi Ann

The beauty of Hoi Ann’s Tangenier lies in both what you can hear and what it may want you to not hear. Lo-fi folk and bedroom-pop are easily tangible on its surface, but the buzzy electronic tones that sparingly flourish the 5 songs of this release lie low and create a unique aural atmosphere for listeners, like hidden secrets for your ears only.

Indie-Punk Sweeties | Gestalt

The pop-punk shred-bois in Gestalt are back at it again; The irresistible combo of the Get Up Kids earnest midwestern-emo and smart pop-punk wit of the Wonder Years is strong on the tracks that encompass LongBoix, as is an acute fondness and growing appreciation for the finer indie rock of yesteryear. Well I guess this is growing up.

Psych-Rock Screamcore | Gone Full Heathen

On their criminally good self titled EP, Fort Collins heavies Gone Full Heathen friggin dare you to try and trap them in a single genre. Nice try, but they’ll just chew right through your puny ropes using a gnashing blend of crushing stoner-rock laced hardcore punk and overdriven psych-rock / post-metal induced bite like the righteous rock and roll wolves that they are.

All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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The Haze Craze for Lazy Days



There are many different styles of beer. Ranging from light lagers (think Bud Light) and ales to sours, stouts, and IPAs.

Within those styles, however, are varying styles.

For example, one would think a sour beer is a sour beer, right? Wrong. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, which defines every style of beer, there are six recognized European sour styles.

For IPAs, there are seven. American beers have four; stouts have three… You get the point.

Even with viewing the list of recognized styles, it’s not a complete list.

Take New England IPAs (NE IPA), as a prime example. Many breweries are currently mass producing this style of beer, and it’s selling like crazy.

You may have heard one of your annoying beer loving friends talk about drinking a “juice bomb,” or a requesting a “hazy IPA” at the pub, and shrugged it off. It turns out, they (sometimes) know what they are talking about.

What makes NE IPAs so popular when compared to a more traditional, West Coast IPA? NE IPAs have all of the hop flavors, without an overabundance of bitterness.

Instead of constantly adding hops throughout the boil to achieve a fruity flavor balanced by bitterness, the NE IPA has a small hop addition at the begging, and then nothing else until after the boil has finished.

That translates into a beer with very little bitterness, and plenty of hop aroma and flavor. Hops like Citra, Mosaic, Mosaic, Galaxy, and El Dorado are most common in NE IPAs, according to the Homebrewers Association. Those hops tend to impart a fruity, and dare I say, juicy flavor profile.

Between the juicy flavor and the seemingly natural haziness to NE IPAs, it’s not far fetched for an NE IPA to look like a tall glass of orange or grapefruit juice, only carbonated and full of alcohol.

NE IPAs are starting to gain momentum here in Colorado, with breweries turning their focus to the haze craze. Specifically, Odd13, WeldWerks, and Epic Brewing coming to mind.

Odd13 is based in Lafayette, Colo. and has a long list of NE-inspired IPAs constantly rotating through the tap room and distributed throughout the state. Codename: Super fan and Noob are two beers that are found in cans, and both offer a different approach to the haze craze.

WeldWerks is based in Greeley, Colo. and has accumulated a cult-like following in just a few short years for its Juicy Bits NE IPA. The brewery just started self-distributing locally, so you’ll have to make the trip to the brewery and pick up a crowler or four. Be sure to check the WeldWerks Facebook page for availability and limits. Yes, they have to place per person limits on how much you can purchase.

Epic Brewing recently announced its NE IPA, which will rotate between four different flavor profiles throughout the year. The cans will look the same but will be different colors as a quick way to tell identify which version you have.

So the next time you walk into a brewery or liquor store, it’s OK to ask for a hazy or juicy IPA. It’s a thing, and, frankly, they are damn good.

On Tap: By the time this hits newsstands, ThunderZone Pizza & Taphouse will have opened on the CSU-P campus. Located at 2270 Rawlings Blvd., the ThunderZone features 32 taps, a carefully curated tap list, and is locally owned.

At the opening, the tap list includes tasty brews from the likes of Florence Brewing and Lost Highway.

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Senators upend GOP health care bill in true Trump style… Twitter



WASHINGTON — When Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran decided they were in ready to disrupt the GOP rewrite of the health care law, they chose President Donald Trump’s favorite medium.

They could not support Senate Republicans’ plan, the somewhat unlikely pair of conservatives tweeted at 8:30 p.m. Monday night, giving no heads up to the White House or Senate leaders before pressing send.

The story behind the statement reveals two senators willing to be branded as bill killers and seemingly unconcerned with trying to soften the blow with party leaders.

The announcement, coming after some 10 days of conversations between the men, stunned official Washington and left Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at least two votes short in the closely divided Senate from being able to move forward with the GOP bill, effectively sinking the measure. It landed shortly after Trump dined with a group of senators to discuss strategy – unwittingly plotting a plan that would immediately become outdated.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader, found out about Lee’s defection after the White House dinner of rosemary-grilled rib eye and summer vegetable succotash. He “had no idea it was coming,” Cornyn said.

Another Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, found out from TV news.

Moran, a second-term lawmaker from Kansas who isn’t known for making waves, and Lee, a two-term senator from Utah who has clashed with Trump, have been talking over the past 10 days about the health care legislation and agreed the GOP bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare or address rising health-care costs. They decided to announce their position to make the bill’s fate clear and allow senators to move on, Moran said.

“It could have been prolonged for days or weeks while no one said anything,” Moran said in an interview.

Moran, who oversaw the Senate Republicans’ 2014 election campaigns, concluded last week he wouldn’t vote for the latest version of the bill but “gave myself a weekend in Kansas to think about it,” he said.

Lee had helped draft an amendment, along with fellow conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow insurers to sell skimpy plans alongside more robust ones to lower costs. Cruz agreed to some changes in wording by GOP leaders, but Lee thought the new language allowed too many Obama-era regulations to remain in place.

After talking again, Moran and Lee agreed Monday night on a statement drafted earlier in the day. They issued their statement shortly after a White House dinner attended by seven GOP senators – all likely yes votes on the health care bill. Neither Lee nor Moran attended.

A Lee spokesman said the statement – and its timing – “had nothing to do with the White House dinner. It was not a reaction in any way.”

The statement was made public as soon as it was ready, the spokesman said.

Neither Trump nor McConnell received advance warning about the statement, although it’s likely that neither the president nor the Senate leader was completely surprised.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend calling lawmakers, including Lee and at least seven other GOP senators, according to the administration. Trump talked politics, while Pence discussed policy.

Trump called Lee on Saturday, and Lee told the president he was leaning against the bill, for the reasons he later made public.

Lee told Utah’s KSL Newsradio that he had a great conversation with Trump, when he told the president his “consumer freedom” amendment had been weakened and that he wasn’t sure that he could support the bill.

“He was encouraging to me and said, you know, ‘Just see what changes you can make to it,’ ” Lee said.

Lee and McConnell did not talk over the weekend, but Lee spoke twice to Cornyn, R-Texas, the majority whip.

Trump, who frequently takes to Twitter to announce proposals or denounce opponents, was blindsided by, of all things, a tweet.

He told reporters Tuesday he was “very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape. But they did. And, you know, everybody has their own reason.”

Moran said while he remained committed to repealing the health care law, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill in an “open legislative process.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said, in a statement that followed the tweet.

In his own statement, Lee said the GOP bill does not repeal all the Obamacare tax increases and “doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Both explanations were issued on social media.

“Twitter is a nice medium to get your message out,” Lee’s spokesman said.

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